The Botetourt County Parks & Recreation Department had an exciting 2022. One of the major highlights came in the form of the 2022 Recreation Incentive Funds. This program offers matching funds to community service groups, individuals and businesses wishing to make recreation-related capital improvements that benefit the general public. Seven county organizations, including non-profit entities and Botetourt County schools, were awarded $44,551.60.
This year’s recipients are: Buchanan Elementary for new playground equipment – $74,000 (total project cost), $10,000 (requested); Read Mountain Middle School for improvements to concession stand – $3,374 (total project), $1,687 (requested); Breckinridge Elementary for construction of new pavilion – $12,359.74 (total project), $6,179.87 (requested); Cloverdale Church of the Brethren for new playground equipment – $24,216.39 (total cost), $10,000 (requested); James River High School for auxiliary gym scoreboards – $10,245 (total cost), $5,122.50 (requested); Troutville Elementary for track and blacktop surface improvements – $20,752 (total cost), $10,000 (requested); Lord Botetourt High School for a softball field sound system – $3,124.46 (total cost), $1,562.23 (requested).
“Many of the 2022-2023 Recreation Incentive Projects have already begun,” Parks & Rec Director Mandy Adkins said in a recent email. “Funding recipients have 18 months to complete their projects. All projects will be completed by June 2024, but many are projected to be finished well before that. Next year’s grant cycle will open on August 1, 2023.”
Another welcome change last year was the department’s first full calendar year of regular programming post-pandemic. Adkins stated that the department saw an increase in youth athletics participation and is excited to begin to expand programming.
In June 2022, Botetourt County Parks & Recreation partnered with the Department of Wildlife Resources to present BOCO WILD, a celebration and expo of outdoor recreation. Previously known as the Botetourt Fishing Carnival, BOCO WILD encompassed a diverse array of outdoor interests— including the historically popular community tradition of fishing instruction, as well as wildlife education, hunting safety, paddling instruction, boating education, and much more.
June was a busy month for the department as Botetourt County was one of five host localities for the Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge. From June 29-July 2, 2022, Botetourt County, along with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, and Roanoke City, hosted the USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships. Three of the four days of competition were located in Botetourt County and the Parks and Recreation team, along with Botetourt Fire & EMS and Botetourt Sheriff’s Office, played a vital role in the execution and success of that event. “We saw hundreds of visitors come to Botetourt to participate in the competition and received incredible feedback on the beautiful scenery, hospitality, and cycling opportunities offered within the county,” Adkins said.
The department expanded the Movie in the Park series and announced a new basketball program for athletes between 13-18 years old. After not receiving enough registrations for these age groups to have a traditional basketball league, Recreation Manager Shontae’ Wade and Recreation Coordinator Chris Mundy put their heads together to develop an alternative other than automatically offering participants a refund. What was designed was a pick-up league that will begin in January. Athletes registered for the program will play an officiated pick-up game with their peers on Saturday afternoons, but will not have practice during the week like a traditional league. Families were given the opportunity for a refund if this was not the type of program they were interested in, but most families opted to participate.
“We are excited to be able to provide the space and opportunity for these students to play the game they love,” Adkins added. “This will be the pilot year of the program, but we hope that it will continue to grow.”
Another highlight of 2022 was the creation of the hybrid position between libraries and Parks and Recreation. In November, it was announced that Jennifer Hannah would serve as the Eagle Rock Library Branch Supervisor. In this newly created position, Jennifer oversees the facility, staff, and general library operations as well as Parks and Recreation non-athletics programming, such as social, recreational, and health/wellness events.
“We are so excited to have Jennifer on our team and expand our non-athletics program offerings,” Adkins said. “Personally, I am so grateful to Library Director Julie Phillips and her library team for being willing to partner with us. Additionally, I appreciate our great County Administration who allowed us to think outside of the box and develop this hybrid position which will benefit both departments and residents.”
Additionally, in 2022 the Botetourt Sports Complex hosted tournaments 25 out of 31 weekends between late March and mid-October, and Botetourt County’s Van Program continued to offer transportation services to medical appointments and basic errands to seniors within the county.
Looking ahead to 2023, the department will be kicking off the new year with two new programs in partnership with the county libraries beginning in January. The first is “Yoga for Beginners” at the Eagle Rock Library. The first class is Tuesday, January 10, and meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 10:30 a.m. Community members can call 540-928-2800 to secure their spot in the class.
Another fun opportunity kicking off in January is the Puzzle Club, Scrabble Club, and Card Games Club which will take place at all four library branches. These are great for all ages. All clubs start at 10:30 a.m. on the following days:
In addition to these new programs, community members can expect to see a few other group exercise classes being offered through Parks and Recreation later in 2023. Other exciting things happening in 2023 include an even bigger and better BOCO Wild event in June. Stay tuned for the date announcement within the coming weeks. Additionally, there will be a lot of volunteer opportunities for community members interested in being part of the 2023 Carilion Clinic IRONMAN 70.3 Virginia’s Blue Ridge and USA Cycling Amateur Road National Championships in June.
“Our team is also working on several other exciting new programs that will launch in 2023, but details are still being ironed out,” Adkins said. “One new opportunity to be on the lookout for is a fly-fishing program that is in development. Details will be announced in late winter.”
In addition to all the exciting new programs the Parks & Rec Department is launching, it will continue to offer our youth athletics programs throughout the year which include; tackle and flag football, cheerleading, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, and T-ball. Registration for spring baseball, softball, and T-ball will open on January 8, and fall athletics registration will open in May.
Community members can stay up to date on all Parks and Recreation news by visiting the website (www.bocorecreation.info) and following on Facebook. Individuals may also have news emailed or texted directly to them by visiting www.bococreation.info and clicking Notifications.
~ Fincastle Herald staff report